ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - "It's not a Quidditch tournament unless someone breaks something."
Quidditch is a full contact, co-ed sport, but unless you're a Harry Potter fan, you probably have never heard of it.
J.K. Rowling dreamed up the high-flying game and gave it life in the Harry Potter books. It was embraced by her loyal fans and they brought it to the ground. In the books, the athletes fly around on broomsticks throwing a ball through hoops to score points. In the "muggle" world, what Harry Potter characters call those of us not living in the magical realm, balls are still thrown through hoops and broomsticks are still involved.
This weekend, thousands ascended on Rock Hill, SC to watch and play in the Quidditch World Cup at Manchester Meadows soccer complex. The top 80 teams in the U.S. and Canada were invited to participate in the weekend tournament.
When you hear it's a Harry Potter game, you might think people are running around with wands and robes. That was certainly not the case.
The teams are made up of college students and when players describe the game, they say it is a mash up of rugby, dodgeball, and basketball. There's throwing, dodging, shooting, tackling and even wrestling involved.
Some players have athletic backgrounds, and others do not. Kelly Stoldt from New York says she started playing because she's "awful at other muggle sports." Another player said she picked the college she attends based on whether or not they had a Quidditch team.
After a shootout between regional foes, University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina, a defeated Tarheel team came off of the pitch smiling. Most players say they joined the team to meet people at school and travel. Now they know people from all over the country. Lee Hodge said it joined to be a part of a team again.
Hodge played football and ran track in high school and when someone told him to check out Quidditch in Chapel Hill, his first thought was that he didn't want to be involved in "some stupid nerd thing." After he saw what the high energy game was all about by watching a video on YouTube and thought he'd give it a try.
Now he's hooked and volunteers at tournaments as a "Snitch."
At UNC, Quidditch is considered a club sport, so the team gets money from the university to help offset travel costs. They travel at least once a month as a team to compete in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and South Carolina.
So how exactly does this game work, exactly?
Each player has a job whether it's knocking other players out of the game, scoring, or catching the Snitch. Shooting the ball through the hoop is 10 points, catching the Snitch is 30 points.
Did you say, the Snitch?!
The Snitch in the Harry Potter books and movies is a flying gold ball. In the ground sport, it is a person who wears yellow and has a ball Velcroed to their back. When the ball is caught or removed by a player, the game is over. The team with the most points in the end wins.
For more information on the game and rules you can check out the website for US Quidditch.